Generally speaking I do not like to complain in restaurants as I feel it puts everyone on edge. However sometimes it is not enough to write it off to experience, you must make yourself heard. On the rare occasion that I feel it is necessary it is often governed by a comedy of errors rather than one mistake.
Perhaps the first misstep was our own. having enjoyed the Kings Speech at the BAM Theatre we decided on dinner in Fort Greene. There are numerous choices in the area, the result of a steady period of gentrification that has turned the once shady neighbourhood into a desirable locale supported by gourmet stores, coffee shops and restaurants with the added bonus of Fort Greene Park.
It came down to the middle eastern spot Black Iris or the ‘New Brooklyn Cuisine’ of The General Greene. The NBC moniker sounds as pretentious as it possibly is, however of the many restaurants that fit the locavore billing most we have tried have been good if not better. It should have been a no brainer since a previous visit to the General Greene had left me somewhat underwhelmed.
Nearly everyone deserves a second chance so this was it. From the moment we escaped the biting wind it was as if the place was stuck in slow motion. The service was poor, not laid back as I think the intention was, but just plain slack. Inattentive, inefficient and frustrating. With no-one specific waiter/ress we were served by all three of the staff on duty, hence none of them knew what we had ordered nor what we were still waiting for. We shared four small plates and were happy for them to come as they were ready. First up was a cream of tomato soup that was green! It was okay until our taste buds were assaulted by a riot of pepper. Next up was their 3 cheese Mac and Cheese. Perhaps at this point I should have been bolder and complained since it was as if the chef had read the menu literally and used three morsels of cheese. The dish was a joke, essentially it was overcooked pasta, a tea-spoon of bechamel and a soupcon of cheese dust….
Things could only improve as we waited for the next of our dishes….and waited…and waited…. Eventually we realised that it was not going to happen without our help so I summoned who I imagined to be the manager and as gently as possible inquired as to the rest of our meal. Some moments later after a heated discussion between the wait staff the bartender appeared with a bottle of wine, some apologies and a free refill. At this point though the game was up, there was nothing that they could do to rescue the meal, although in fairness they did everything they could.
The wine was a nice touch, and then when the bill came they had removed the two slow-moving dishes. I hate not paying for mistakes on the bill, so more often than not I will make the server aware of an error. In this case I had no qualms about not paying for the two dishes that took 40 minutes to arrive, however I was interested to know if it was a mistake or an intentional gesture. It was in fact intentional so hats off to the manager. In the end she proved to be aware enough to know when recompense was needed and at least we left with a sense of ease.
Unfortunately the final gesture was too little to ever make me think of going back. I have put up with poor service in the past but this was always on the condition that the reward of a great meal can mask the deficiencies. The General Greene failed to deliver even the most basic food to any kind of competent level, and since this was the second disappointing visit I am happy to close the book on this place for good.